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Recapping the PLC Governors’ Forums


May be an image of text that says 'Pennsylvania Leadership Conference'One of the highlights of Friday’s sessions at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference was a pair of forums for the candidates for the GOP governor’s nomination.

The nine candidates were split into two forums. The first featured Lou Barletta, Melissa Hart, Doug Mastriano, Dave White and Nche Zama. The second seated Jake Corman, Joe Gale, Charlie Gerow and Bill McSwain.

While the main targets for the candidates during their allotted time were Governor Tom Wolf and presumptive Democratic candidate for governor and current Attorney General Josh Shapiro, there were some barbs tossed around at the others on or off the stage.

Mastriano, the state senator from Franklin County, talked about election integrity. He said, “if there was a desire to do a forensic audit (on the 2020 election), it would have been done by now. Politicians shouldn’t have meddled. Josh Shapiro needs to open the books. We have to take our state back.” When asked about electability, he said that “Democrats are switching parties to join us because we have bold, proven leadership. Under Mastriano, Pennsylvania will become a Republican state.”

White said that Wolf and Shapiro were complicit in the COVID-19 deaths of elderly in nursing homes due to their policies. “Shapiro never lifted a finger to help the elderly or businesses that were shut down,” he said. He also was exasperated by the lack of movement in Harrisburg when it comes to school choice. “We’ve been talking about school choice for 25 years,” he said. “We need a business guy that depends on results. In Harrisburg, if you don’t get results, you get reelected.”

When asked about the proposed debate rules agreed upon by the Barletta, Corman, McSwain and White campaigns, Hart stated that “each one of us will need to defend our positions. It is important to come across (to voters) as willing to answer. When challenged, it is an opportunity for us to show our differences and display how we can succeed.”

Zama talked about numerous problems in the Commonwealth. “Pennsylvania is sick and needs a doc,” said the cardiac surgeon. “If you recognize sickness, make a diagnosis. Only then can you seek solutions. They won’t come on the wheels of inevitability. When Pennsylvania stops succeeding, the world suffers.”

Barletta said that he has learned lessons from his failed 2018 Senate bid against Bob Casey. “(Running in 2018) wasn’t a liability. It put me in a better position to win,” he commented. “Timing is everything. We now have a statewide network. We haven’t advertised and we’re still at the top of the polls.”

Hart talked about her past successes. “It’s important for us as conservatives in Pennsylvania to elect someone who can get elected in the general,” she responded to a question. “I have won six elections in democratic-leaning districts.”

White asked a rhetorical question – “how do we beat Josh Shapiro? Be the total opposite of Josh Shapiro. I am his total opposite. I’m a high school graduate, a pipe-fitter who built a business. If I can do it, the people of Pennsylvania can do it.”

Mastriano closed by saying, “this is personal. I’m desperately trying to save our state. I want to be a beacon on the hill.”

Barletta concluded the session on election integrity. “People can now mail in their ballots. They don’t even need to leave the cemetery.”

The second session opened with Gerow making a case for experience. “Ronald Reagan fought the battle for principle,” he said. “He’s a good model. I’ve always fought with a smile on my face. You don’t have to get nasty and vicious to get things done.” He championed his conservative background but added, “I’ve never kissed anyone’s ring and I won’t start now.”

Gale said that the Commonwealth doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a cost problem. “We have the worst roads in the country with the highest gas taxes.”

Corman tipped his cap to the former president, noting that “the GOP is changing and we owe Donald Trump for that.” “He brought in new blue-collar and minority voters.” When queried about school choice, he responded that we “have to empower parents. Know what’s being taught in school. When we leave a generation of students uneducated, they are never truly free.”

McSwain went on record that he “would absolutely enforce the death penalty” for the 108 people currently on death row. “Who is (Tom Wolf) to step in and act like king and say the jury decision will not be carried out.” He went on to say that Pennsylvania “needs to repeal Act 77 and institute voter ID. We (currently) have an unconstitutional system that the legislature voted in. Not me.” He also praised Florida governor Ron DeSantis as someone he admired. “We have nearly the exact resume and background. I would love to be a version of him. The career politician carousel has to end.”

Gale, an admitted “flame-thrower,” said that he “puts people before politics. That’s the only coalition I’m concerned with. Anyone who voted for Act 77 should be disqualified from holding office or being promoted to higher office.” He referred to Mastriano as “Mail-In Doug,” stating that he is “telling the uncomfortable truth.”

Gerow concluded that he differs from DeSantis, as he never went to Harvard and “he’s pretty proud of that. I believe that we are in a battle for the heart and soul of the nation. We can’t afford to lose.”

Corman finished by praising South Dakota governor Kristi Noem and that he is not running “to have power, but to protect your power and freedoms.”

“Republican candidates had a whopping three minutes to answer hand-picked questions by fellow Republicans and yet they still didn’t focus on tackling the issues facing Pennsylvanians,” said Pennsylvania Democratic Party spokesperson Marisa Nahem. Instead, candidates championed the Big Lie, spewed anti-worker talking points, praised Trump, and attacked each other over their MAGA credentials.

Six of the seven GOP Senate candidates will hold a forum on Saturday. Dave McCormick will not be in attendance.

updated to include Nahem statement


16 Responses

  1. First, this was a “forum” and not a “debate,” so it’s not surprising that the audience booed Gale’s proper-noun attacks on Mastriano.

    Second, the most personable speakers were Gerow and Barletta for disparate reasons; Gerow’s radio-debate experience provided impetus to connect with the disinterested listener, whereas Barletta’s polished erudition empowered him to convey a sense that he was aware of the key action-items he would wish to tackle.

    Third, the only consistent proponent of election integrity since his Gettysburg 11/2020 event was Mastriano, with the others focused exclusively upon 2022; all of them [except the “juvenile” Gale] had been approached one year ago @ PLC regarding what The Donald considers issue #1, but none of them could ID what had been aggressively pursued along these lines beyond noting their campaign websites.

    Fourth, Dr. Zama spoke forcefully absent details and Hart spoke calmly without vigor; to defeat Josh, the candidate will need command of details and the ability to deliver messaging with aplomb.

    Fifth, McSwain stayed in his law-and-order lane throughout, only tentatively conveying predictable talking-points in other realms; White wasn’t asked what he’d accomplished in DelCo, noting he was defeated as an incumbent.

    Sixth, I’ve supported Mastriano “forever” but can envision how his victory [note he’s polling as a majority in the current PoliticsPA distillation] would unify everyone; illustrative of this projection is how he and Barletta [off-camera] exchanged camaraderie throughout the proceedings.

    Seventh, mirroring creation, I note the end of the Jewish Sabbath and will rest [my assessment].

    1. Addendum: Jake-the-fake-snake Corman merits mention only as the incarnation of all that disgusts the base about the Harrisburg Swamp.

    2. Hey Dr. Bob Sucmeoff go back into whatever dank hole you crawled out off. Loser!

      1. Bob,
        Mastriano is only uniting people in their disgust of his lies and cultish manipulation- blending religious beliefs with political conviction. He is preying on pennsylvanians like the Qanon embarrassment.

        If you think PA will vote for him in a general, you need to remove yourself from all political commentary.
        The trump election happened and he lost. We don’t need to keep running up that hill with other psycho lying Trump wannabes.

  2. The Gov candidates were there and that counts. Gerow was the most straight forward. Gerow seems to be the only traditional Republican on the panels. Lou saying vote fraud is a problem when the only recent vote fraud case I can recall was a Republican seems contrived. Corman praising Trump seemed some effort to be pandering. Corman seems very unclear what he is doing in the race.

    1. Hey Abe, enough with the nauseating commentary. Joe Gale is the man for the job. The rest are still are better than the libs.

    2. Corman was one of the main collaborators of Act 77 – to get Trump out of office. Now he is pandering to the former president in order to get an endorsement.

      1. What kind of comments can you expect from a fake poster who steals names and pretends to be somebody else?

        Maybe PoliticsPA will someday get integrity and stop this fraudulent activity.

        1. What kind of comments can you expect from a fake poster who steals names and pretends to be somebody else?

          Maybe PoliticsPA will someday get integrity and stop this fraudulent activity.

          I only support strong MAGA candidates and leaders

  3. After today’s remarkable debate performance, I know that Gale guy is the right candidate to lead this state. Doug M is a close second.

    1. Nothing this fake poster says is true. PoliticsPA knows that but permits it anyhow. They know who the name thief is, but lack the integrity to clean up their website.

      1. Nothing this fake poster says in response to my real posts is true. PoliticsPA knows that but permits it anyhow. They know who the name thief is, but lack the integrity to clean up their website.

        Joe Gale is the best person to lead PA

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